It All Started With Autumn

by limebirdvanessa

Crackle scrunch, crispy crunch
Go the leaves as people tread on them

Those are two lines from a poem I wrote when I was nine years old. I can’t remember the rest of the poem but those two lines stuck in my mind, probably because they always bothered me – even back then I could tell they were clunky but I didn’t know what to do about it so I left them. Our class teacher had set us all the task of writing a poem about autumn. Prior to actually writing, we were taken on a walk to the park where we collected leaves, and were encouraged to notice the sights and sounds and feelings of autumn that we could then use in our poems.


After we had written our masterpieces, two or three of the poems were selected for inclusion in that year’s school magazine. Imagine my delight when I found out that my poem was one of the chosen ones – I know, you’re wondering how bad the others must have been if mine was selected as one of the best, right? But whatever reason they had for selecting mine didn’t matter, the result was that I saw something I had written end up in print. It was just a small school magazine that the school secretary typed up and made copies of on an old copying machine which she then stapled together by hand, but I couldn’t have been more thrilled.

I always look back at that experience as being the moment where I first developed an interest in writing. It wasn’t a huge life changing moment where I suddenly knew that all I ever wanted to do was be a writer, no, it was just a spark. But sometimes all it takes is a small spark. I’m sure it was the combination of the walk in the park showing us that writing is a much wider experience than just putting words on paper, together with the recognition of being selected for the magazine that made this experience my spark.

When did your writing spark start?


38 Responses to “It All Started With Autumn”

  1. It’s hard to think of when my writing spark “started,” but I do know that my writing spark has returned over the past few months after being gone for about 2 years, and I’m so happy that it’s back!

  2. That’s kinda funny. I think mine too, started with a school poem about autumn. I wrote it in 2nd grade, I think. I don’t recall a thing about the poem itself. I DO recall having this perfect line in my head, but then we had to go somewhere (gym, music, recess, whatever) and I forgot it by the time we came back. I never did recall that perfect line, but I remember the feeling, like all the pieces just fell into place, when I though of that line. The poem I did end up with was pretty good, too. It was one of my favorites from that year.

    Interestingly, I did have a poem “published” the year before in school. The teacher helped two of us (the best writers in our class) write poems for a big school contest. Mine (about cats – written in sentences) won for 1st grade, and was printed up and bound in a little brown “hard cover.” I was tickled pink… because there was a title page (THAT made it real, not the binding). But I had been walked through the process, so it didn’t hit me as much as that autumn poem.

    I’m glad you wrote this post. I’d actually been thinking about that poem lately. I wish I could remember it.

    • That is funny that yours started with a school poem about autumn too! Maybe that’s the secret to get kids inspired to write! It’s probably all the colours of autumn that gets the kids interested. Two or three years ago an old school friend said that she had come across that old school magazine that had my poem in, I keep meaning to ask her for a copy.

      • I think autumn is both concrete enough for kids to wrap their heads around, but also allows for them to dip their toes in the pool of abstract thought. The availability of simile and metaphor, the sensory input (esp. smell and sound) are very rich… at least if you don’t live in a place like San Diego πŸ™‚ Oh, and lots of words rhyme with “fall” so it’s a good starting place for poetry for young kids.

  3. I started writing free verse poetry in high school. In my twenties I tried my hand at short stories and found that I had trouble completing the story in this short form so I went on to write novels and then screenplays.

    • It seems a lot of us started with poetry! I always feel like I won’t have enough to say to complete a novel. I seem to manage screenplays though – less words, gets done quicker.

      • I agree about screenplays. They are much easier for me to write. Novel writing has proved quite the struggle, but I love learning and doing it as well.

  4. Great post! I took a good, hard shot at poetry, in 1989, at seminary. But I never was printed, and this was the event that brought on a poem from an editor, that I needed to see a therapist. At around the same time, I began writing sermons, which were well received. But then, starting my blog, (October, 2011,) I’ve finally hooked in to writing for the joy and the lessons about myself which arise. 😎

  5. I always wrote things… but scraps of genuine compliments from teachers really made a difference. I remember an unusual assignment we had in high school where we had to write about irony. Our teacher was tough. Everyone but two of us got the assignment completely, horrendously wrong. When she read my essay along with another boy’s and said those were exactly what she was looking for, it changed my life. I rode that little wave of happiness for a few years! ; )

    • Teachers have such a huge responsibility don’t they – little comments they make can really make or break someone. As you say, the genuine compliments from them mean a lot, but equally they can completely put somebody off pursuing something with one crushing comment. I don’t think they always realise the power they hold.

      • Yes! I agree. I wish I could say that as a kid, it didn’t really matter what anyone said about my writing, but I would be lying. Teachers are tremendously powerful. Encouragement can go a long way.

  6. Your two-liner is darn good for a nine-year-old. When I was six and wrote a complete sentence on my own … the light when on. It has been aglow ever since.
    Blessings – Maxi

  7. You are right Vanessa, I can still remember in my early twenties, I got away from poetry and actually tried to write a fantasy book about a group of people on a quest, dragons, etc. I don’t remember how many words it was or anything, it was book length.
    I went back and gave it to my favorite high school teacher. I asked him to read it and he basically told me it was no good (I’m sure it wasn’t!), and that a writing career shouldn’t be my choice. That was such a blow that I quit writing until the last 3-4 years or so, a hiatus of over 25 years. I hope my skin is thicker this time, but teachers really do hold a lot of influence over young minds. Maybe that’s where I got the idea (still deeply embedded) that I just don’t have a book in me. It’s why I do short stories.

  8. I wrote some poems for my mom for Mother’s Day when I was about 8. One was about a frog. It was pure genius! πŸ™‚

  9. I can’t pinpoint that first moment, either, but I always enjoyed writing and did well at it in school. It’s also central to my day job. Story ideas have come and gone through the years, but on April 14, 2009, I sat down and started writing my first novel. I haven’t stopped since. Well, there have been plenty of tough days when nothing gets written, but I keep going. πŸ™‚

    • Interesting that you remember the exact date you started the novel writing, it must have been a very conscious choice to start and see it as a significant moment! Over three years ago now.

  10. Great post!
    I really can’t think of a single moment when it struck me I liked to write. I do remember writing I guess what you’d call fan-fiction when I was a little kid, of shows or movies I liked. When I was around 7 this show I used to love was on and I’d write short stories for it LOL! And when I was 12 Independence Day came out and I LOVED it so much, and wrote a story for that. That was probably around the same time I started reading Stephen King books, and would write sequel ideas for his stories. So, I’d say it was around the ages of 7 to 12 when I’d write silly stories to follow up on my favorite shows, movies and books.

    • Writing stories around shows or movies you liked sounds like a good way to start, it’s not something I ever thought of doing, I might encourage my children to have a go at that.

  11. I think your poem is charming.

    My spark? As crazy as it sounds . . . when friends and family told me I write the BEST thank you notes. Crazy, right? But it is true.

  12. I’d suggest taking those two lines now, and run with them in something new. Old becomes new, regenerated.

  13. There have been some sparks, and resparks along the way. First was in high school when an instructor wanted to submit some of my poetry for publication. I was too afraid to let him. Silly me. My mother told me that my poetry was inappropriate, and I guess I believed her. I burned it all shortly after my children were born, not wanting them to find it if I died or something. Isn’t that awful?! Gosh, I would love to have those back. I can remember bits and pieces, but not all of it.

    Then, when I was working on an Air Force contract back east, I was made an editor. I sort of dug that, and still dig it, though I have no credentials whatsoever! Just a natural gift, I suppose.

    After I’d moved back west for a bit, my husband and I were chatting around the fire one night, and I was telling some tales and ideas I have for great stories. He said to me, “You are a writer, why don’t you write?” He bought me a laptop that Christmas, and I’ve been working at expanding those writing projects ever since.

    It’s a journey, right?

  14. I actually love those lines in your poem. But maybe that’s because I spend a lot of time writing with children, and so I know the range of ability when it comes to children’s writing.

    I don’t know that I had a singular moment like what you describe, which was defining for me. I can remember multiple moments as a child/adolescent that all seem to work together to create that fire inside of me, that need to write all the time.

    But I know for sure that besides my own passion to write, the other spark was when other people read my stories and laughed out loud or couldn’t put them down. Knowing I was writing something that someone else enjoyed definitely encouraged me to keep going.

    • I think it’s only fairly recently that I realised that autumn poem moment was my first spark. I was thinking back over my writing history and wondering when it started and realised that my interest really did start at that moment.

      And yes you’re right, as much as we might say that we write for ourselves, it certainly helps to get great feedback in the form of others enjoying it! πŸ™‚

  15. I wrote short stories for a youth magazine in my local area. I’ve completely forgotten about it until reading this, but that certainly had something to do with my desire to write. A bit like your experience; the magazine was a simple, hand made thing, but that takes nothing away from the feeling of pride. πŸ™‚

  16. You definitely demonstrated a precocious connection to the sound of words: sibilance/assonance/onomatopoeia/phonetic symbolism, etc. Fabulous two lines. Great start to a children’s book of poetry.


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